As I the Shards Examine by Chris Wind


DOWNLOAD


This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author’s PRIOR consent


CHARACTERS:

      Restroom attendant - around 50

      Ophelia - mid 20s; she questions the advice of her brother Laertes and
      her father Polonius, accusing them both of projection, then extends
      her criticism to Hamlet, examining both his words and actions, in the
      end revealing that she did not kill herself, the weight of her dress
      dragged her down.

      Lady MacBeth - a ‘bag lady’; she reveals that she also did not kill
      herself, but was murdered.

      Regan – anywoman; she presents a fresh look at King Lear, showing
      how the pieces fit a story of sexual abuse.

      Portia - executive-typed; she is enraged that she is not allowed to
      use her fine mind to choose her own husband and that she must disguise
      herself as a man in order to practice law.

      Desdemona – anywoman; she examines the charge of infidelity brought
      against her and finds it sorely wanting.

      Kate - anywoman, battered; she examines what it is to be called a
      ‘shrew’ and then recounts the events of the play, which show with
      frightening plausibility that she was a victim of so-called
      ‘domestic assault’.

      Isabella - university student; she considers the choice before her and
      has no trouble agreeing to sex for a life.

      Juliet - high school student, cool, punky; she pooh-poohs love at
      first sight – she just wants to have sex.

      Marina - around 13; she reveals the truth of her life – as a child
      prostitute.

      Miranda - the restroom cleaning lady; she explores why mothers are so
      absent in Shakespeare’s world.

      Paramedics

      Police officer


    SCENE: A WOMEN’S RESTROOM

      ATTENDANT is seated off to the side just inside the entrance, with a
      pile of neatly folded towels, soaps, etc. She wears a uniform. She
      speaks speaks her lines as asides, directly to the audience.

      OPHELIA enters restroom, takes a towel or soap as an afterthought,
      seems unaware of the customary tip, then continues into the restroom
      proper.

      ATTENDANT
      That’s Ophelia – Hamlet’s girlfriend? The one who went mad and
      drowned herself? Well, at least according to Shakespeare.

      OPHELIA
      (mumbling the prologue as she writes it on the wall)

                            O what a noble mind is here at last
                            uncover’d!
                            The glass of fashion, the mould of
                            form
                            Is quite dash’d against the stone;
                            The shattered pieces lie at my
                            feet.
                            My thoughts, my feelings,
                            Once fixed, encased in crystal,
                            Breathe and blow in the quick’ning
                            wind
                            Like petals.  Once pale, now
                            pulsing,
                            Rich, and rainbowed, come!
                            I beseech thee, attend and heed
                            As I the shards examine.

      (has three letters in her hands, taken out of her purse; chooses
      one)

                            Laertes, brother, you insult to
                            suggest
                            Hamlet’s love impermanent
                            For his choice must be queen
                            As well as wife: Am I not worthy?
                            Further, you warn caution,
                            Lest I my ‘chaste treasure open’:
                            I am mistress of my self!
                            And since more than a man, I pay the
                            cost,
                            Then more, not less, do I take such
                            care.
                            Lastly, you say ‘safety lies in
                            fear’:
                            I have grown weary of being afraid,
                            Of being made to feel afraid; I
                            yearn
                            To meet the day and greet the night
                            Unafraid – as men are wont to do.
                            And I crave to love with opening
                            arms –
                            So tell me not to hide my heart
                            Lest my desire lead him to abandon
                            Restraint, and madly ravish –
                            would it be so?
                            (Or do you extend to all of your
                            kind
                            Knowledge of your self alone?)

      (ink has gotten on her hands from the graffiti or the letters; she
      rinses and wipes her hands on the linen roll-around; chooses another
      letter)

                            Father, your words are as out of
                            tune.
                            You say I do not understand myself
                            And see me as still an infant babe,
                            For by foil you would then appear
                            the more mature:
                            Is contrast your only proof of
                            wisdom and worth?
                            (Alas, all cowards and chameleons
                            create their colour
                            From what is without, not what is
                            within.)
                            And you instruct me to ‘set my
                            entreatments at a higher rate’
                            As if I am some prize!  Do you think
                            me a whore,
                            That my presence must be paid for?
                            Then you claim he may walk with a
                            larger tether
                            (As if we were but animals!):  Why
                            do you grant him
                            More freedom than I?
                            Why does Laertes go to Paris (and
                            not I)
                            When you know his simple mind so
                            well
                            You sent another to be guardian?
                            I pray thee, Father, reconsider –

                            Is it because your own judgement is
                            faulty
                            That you do not trust mine?
                            Hamlet is a fine man, soldier,
                            scholar, courtier,
                            A prince!  And I judge him to be
                            sincere.
                            Is that not enough?
                            No, indeed, that is nothing, for
                            lastly
                            You tell me to forsake him –
                            forever!
                            For no other reason than your own
                            mistrust
                            Of him, of me, that I’ll become with
                            child
                            (And thereby make you the greater
                            fool –
                            You think not what it would make of me.)

                            To you both, I never sought your advice
                            Why do you ‘press it upon me so?
                            Perhaps you feel your sex gives the right –
                            No. I’ll give the reason: Projection is all.

      (she looks in the mirror and considers herself often throughout)

                            Brother, your passions run without rule
                            So you tell your sister to reign hers.
                            And Father, you are a fool and master both,
                            Of fine words and deception’s smile
                            So you counsel your daughter to believe none.

      (she chooses a third letter)

                            And now, Hamlet, no longer my lord
                            I have words that I have longed to deliver.

      Ophelia exits

      ATTENDANT
      Dogrose.  That’s just the same as a common wildrose – symbol of
      pleasure mixed with pain.  Also believed to cure the bit of mad dogs.

      LADY MACBETH enters wheeling her shopping cart. She takes many towels
      and soaps, shoving them into her cart – she is very much a
      streetdweller, a ‘bag lady’.

      ATTENDANT
      Surely you recognize Lady MacBeth.

      LADY MACBETH
      (she only incidentally faces the mirror throughout her ‘toilette’;
      she begins by vigorously washing her hands, then her arms)

                            I didn’t kill myself.

      (she takes off her shirt, washes her armpits, and chest – sort of,
      and the shirt)

                            I outperformed them in their own play.

      (she rummage sin her stuff for another shirt, puts it on, tucks the
      wet one somewhere)

                            So they removed me (too)
                            To the realm of insanity
                            And then

      (washes face and hands again)

                                        they killed me.

      (dries her hands on the linen roll-around, tucks the towels into her
      cart, steals a roll of toilet paper from one of the stalls, then
      exits)

      REGAN enters the restroom very quickly, walking right by the
      attendant. She is tense and nervous, and has come in to smoke a
      cigarette and calm herself.

      ATTENDANT
      You probably know her father – King Lear?  That one’s Regan, the
      middle daughter.

      REGAN
      (she has trouble lighting her cigarette but finally succeeds)

                      What you have to wonder is
                            Why our father favoured Cordelia.
                            He was a man who needed to be worshipped
                            But, as the story goes,
                            Cordelia was not one to flatter
                            And praise. So why then?
                            It is simple – she’s young.
                            (That is to say, younger.)
                            And like most men, our father prefers
                            His women to be childish.
                            (Or shall I say, children.)

                            At first he favoured Goneril;

[end of extract]




DOWNLOAD